Monday, July 14, 2008

Media Matters

The big story in the media today is the media itself. I guess you already heard about the New Yorker cover featuring Obama as a terrorist. Ha ha ha. Ironically, the Obama camp's denunciations have only ensured that the cover is now splashed all over the Internet and TV Screens as well as the news-stands.

You might have also seen reports that AP's Ron Fournier, AP's Washington Bureau chief since last May, sent an email to Karl Rove after Pat Tillman's death saying "Keep up the fight." Fournier now says he regrets "the breezy nature of the correspondence."

The email was revealed as part of an investigation into the Tillman cover-up, which found nobody responsible because nobody in the White House could remember anything.
The committee interviewed several top White House officials about the case, but "not a single one could recall when he learned about the fratricide or what he did in response," it said in its 48-page report.

The committee reported a similar lack of information relating to misinformation surrounding Pvt. Jessica Lynch...
The Politico today fingers Fournier as the AP's big problem:
In the stories the new boss is encouraging, first-person writing and emotive language are okay.

So is scrapping the stonefaced approach to journalism that accepts politicians’ statements at face value and offers equal treatment to all sides of an argument. Instead, reporters are encouraged to throw away the weasel words and call it like they see it when they think public officials have revealed themselves as phonies or flip-floppers.
Whether you like that or not probably depends on whether a particular writer sees things the way you do. WSJ is slamming Fournier even as Drudge keeps linking to his articles. And here's Fournier's defence:
“Katrina was a good example of when the journalism community got it right, because it was staring us in the face,” Fournier, seated in the AP’s Washington bureau, told Politico.

“When George Bush stood up there and said that things were going fine in Katrina, I was able to write, ‘The president is wrong.’ That was pretty liberating. It was also a fact.”
And that's exactly it right there. If it's a fact, it's not an opinion. Report the facts and keep opinions for the comment pages. But don't get steamrolled into ignoring the hard facts behind the story. It's not just an opinion if it's verifiably true. And if people are lying, and you can prove they are lying, that is a fact.

For example, here's an interesting conversation between a reporter and Suzanne Kurtz, communications director for the Republican Jewish Coalition:
Why are you listing Hagel as a companion on Obama's Israel's trip if the Telegraph and other news outlets say he won't be there?

"I think what is really interesting is that Chuck Hagel seems to be the latest in the long line of advisers and associates that Sen. Obama and associates the surrounds himself with that really have anti-Israel statements and biases," said Kurtz.

Um... The question had nothing to do with Hagel's record.

"I think it is absolutely about Chuck Hagels' record and the votes."

Ok, let's try a different tact. Yes or no, did the RJC believe Obama was going to Israel with Chuck Hagel?

"I can tell you that it is very interesting that Sen. Obama continues to seek the counsel and companionship of those that have..."

That's not what I'm asking.

"We are going around in a circle you understand."

Yes, I do. Is it easy or difficult to have to repeat the same exact answer, no matter what?

"Is it tough to keep asking the same question again and again?"

Do you think it is the least bit misleading that your website says Obama is going to Israel with Hagel, even though he's not.

"I don't think it is misleading. I think if he is or isn't is a question to be directed to the Obama campaign."
At ICH, Bill Moyers has a lot more to say about how the media operates.